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The value of strengths-based coaching

September 15, 2022

By Nina Bruder, Executive Director JNTP


“What’s working?”

So begins every Jewish New Teacher Project (JNTP) coaching conversation. One of JNTP’s foundational tools is the Collaborative Assessment Log, or “CAL,” which is a conversation organizer with four quadrants that directs and stimulates reflection. It begins by asking “What’s working” and concludes with action steps. This strengths-based approach is fundamental to JNTP’s support of new teachers and administrators and can completely transform a coaching conversation.

Sometimes being asked “What’s working” takes people by surprise and they have to stretch to come up with an answer. Teaching and administration work are hard, and often, educators are inclined to go straight to the frustration and discouragement of what’s NOT working. While our coaching conversations certainly get there, insisting on starting with “What’s working” reminds teachers and administrators that even though everything might feel hard, some things are actually going well. Every lesson, every class, every day has some elements that can be recognized as “working” well.

Starting with a focus on “What’s working” can build confidence. Focusing on strengths and successes provides an immediate dose of positivity as well as a mindset shift towards competence. Educators are reminded to see themselves as capable and effective. New teachers and administrators can see that they are doing some things “right,” even as they are floundering.

Starting with a focus on the positive can recenter teachers and administrators to engage in more balanced reflection and growth in order to replicate what is going well. Unpacking what led to their success helps educators understand why and how what they did worked, gain new insights, and identify what is replicable and transferable to others.

The more educators see and understand what’s working, the faster they can build their skill set and feel confident in their abilities, enabling them to do their jobs better, benefitting all.

As we head into the yamim noraim and begin a period of intensive reflection on our own lives, we can consider this strengths-based approach. Let’s start by asking ourselves “What’s working” instead of homing straight in on what isn’t working and needs to change. This can put us in the right frame of mind to strive for making changes that will help us grow in the coming year – personally, religiously, and professionally.

JEIC - Jewish Education Innovation Challenge



Judith Talesnick

Program Consultant

Lisa Peloquin

Senior Instructional Designer and Coach

Lisa Peloquin is a Senior Instructional Designer and Coach at JNTP, where she focuses on content development and materials preparation for JNTP’s Early Childhood and Administrator Support Programs.. Lisa holds a B.A. in Psychology, with a concentration in child development, from Penn State and a Masters in Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is currently working on her Ph.D. in community psychology, with a research interest in understanding how school communities can impact educational equity. Lisa can be reached at

Tavi Koslowe

Program Consultant

Rabbi Tavi Koslowe is a Program Consultant at JNTP, where he provides coaching to early career administrators through the Administrator Support Program. Tavi has been a teacher and educational leader for the last twenty years in lower, middle, and high school settings. He is currently serving as the High School Dean at the Leffell School in Westchester, NY and the co-director of The Idea Institute, where he supports teachers, administrators, and school leaders in furthering educational practice in Project Based Learning. Most recently, Tavi served as the Judaic Studies Principal of The Idea School in Tenafly, NJ and has held other school leadership positions at the Ramaz School in Manhattan, NY and Yeshivat Noam in Paramus, NJ. Tavi participated in JNTP’s Teacher Induction and Administrator Support Programs. He can be reached at

Eva Broder

Program Consultant

Eva is a Program Consultant for JNTP, where she facilitates professional development training for early childhood mentors. Eva has served as a teacher in private schools throughout the NY area for over 15 years. During this time, she has provided support as a teacher mentor, working with individuals and groups to enhance their teaching practice, and has facilitated and trained teachers in the use of Professional Learning Communities. Eva currently works as a School Consultant for Professional Development at the Hebrew Academy of Long Beach (HALB). She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Yeshiva University and an M.S. in Special and General Education from Bank Street College. Eva trained as a mentor with JNTP in 2017-18. She can be reached at

Evan Weiner

Associate Program Consultant

Evan Weiner is an Associate Program Consultant at JNTP, where he facilitates mentor training. He has been involved with Jewish Education for over 20 years. Evan began his connection with JNTP as a new teacher and eventually became a mentor himself, mentoring teachers in both General and Judaic Studies departments. He has been an educational leader in both formal and informal educational settings, and has brought his JNTP training to elicit the best in his staff partners. Most recently, Evan served as Judaic Studies Principal, Curriculum Coordinator, and Instructional Coach at Ohr Chadash Academy in Baltimore before joining the JNTP staff. Evan participated in the YOU Lead Educational Leadership Program and JETSIsrael Edtech Incubator Program, and he holds an M.Ed. from Azrieli School of Education. Evan can be reached at

Rachel R. Harari

Associate Program Consultant

Rachel Harari is an Associate Program Consultant at JNTP, where she co-facilitates new teacher training. She is also an Associate Lecturer at Columbia University and a middle school English Language Arts teacher at Yeshivah of Flatbush. Rachel is currently working on her PhD at Teachers College, Columbia University, within their Educational Leadership program. Through her work as a Department Chair for six years at Magen David Yeshivah High School in Brooklyn, New York, Rachel was inspired to study the role of the high school department chair in Modern Orthodox schools in New York City. Rachel received her M.S. in Special Education from Brooklyn College, and her B.S. in English Education from New York University, where she published her research on mathematics anxiety in elementary school students: “Mathematics Anxiety in Young Children: An Exploratory Study.” Rachel is a 2016 recipient of The Covenant Foundation’s Pomegranate Prize, which recognizes emerging leaders in the field of Jewish Education.

Lauren Katz

Director of Development

Lauren Katz is JNTP’s Director of Development, where she oversees the organization’s fundraising efforts and marketing and communications initiatives in an effort to advance JNTP’s mission and strategic goals. Lauren’s portfolio includes strategic planning, donor cultivation, engagement, and gift acquisition. She has an extensive background in Jewish non-profit management with a specific focus on fundraising and development, most recently serving as the Director of Marketing & Communications and Alumni Relations at SAR High School for over four years and at the Ramaz School for seven years as the Director of Alumni Relations. In addition, Lauren worked at the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit and UJA-Federation of MetroWest, NJ in the campaign and planning and allocations departments. Lauren holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Michigan and attended the University of Michigan School of Social Work and Jewish Communal Leadership Program. Lauren can be reached at